|"Natural disasters such as the earthquake in Haiti and political tensions such as those now threatening the extremely tenuous peace in Southern Sudan present us with both the opportunity and the challenge to respond to the needs of desperate people." ~ Jesuit Refugee Service/USA Director Fr. Michael A. Evans, S.J.|
(Washington, D.C.) – On November 14, 1980 – in a world dominated by ideology and repression – Jesuits moved to meet the humanitarian and educational needs of the Vietnamese boat people, and Jesuit Refugee Service was born.
As we mark the 30th anniversary of the founding of Jesuit Refugee Service by Fr. General Pedro Arrupe, S.J., the reality of our modern world is quite sobering. There are tens of millions more refugees, internally displaced people, and asylum seekers today than there were in 1980.
"Natural disasters such as the earthquake in Haiti and political tensions such as those now threatening the extremely tenuous peace in Southern Sudan present us with both the opportunity and the challenge to respond to the needs of desperate people," said Jesuit Refugee Service/USA Director Fr. Michael A. Evans, S.J.
During the past 30 years, Jesuit Refugee Service has attempted to meet these challenges by dramatically increasing the scale and scope of our services – through education, emergency assistance, healthcare and human rights protection.
"Accompaniment is the heart of this approach. Our place is close to refugees, being touched by their reality: in camps, conflict zones, detention centers ... on the margins of society. This closeness teaches us how best to serve and advocate on behalf of refugees and promote justice and reconciliation," said JRS International Director Fr. Peter Balleis, S.J.
Central to modern displacement is greed, fuelling insecurity and growing economic disparity. The scramble for resources frequently ends in conflict and persecution. Fleeing extreme poverty and human rights violations, desperate migrants and refugees then face exploitation and resentment when they arrive in new lands.
JRS places the highest priority on ensuring a future for refugees by investing in education and training. Worldwide, JRS provides education and vocational services to approximately 280,000 children, young people and adults every year.
Throughout our 30 years, JRS has remained true to its mission: going where the need is greatest and leaving only once the refugee challenge has been resolved. Working closely with refugees and in cooperation with all people of goodwill, with a non-proselytizing presence, JRS welcomes people of all traditions to share and help in its mission.
Without this closeness to refugees, our advocacy in the centers of power – whether in Geneva, Rome, Brussels, Nairobi, Delhi or Washington – would not be possible. In partnership with refugees JRS tries to address the root causes of forced displacement. Simply stated, JRS works to empower refugees and host communities to defend the human rights of all people, promoting harmony and dignity.
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